On Thunderpussy and the Birth of New Gods

Prepare to be dominated.

May 3rd, 2017
Lex Voight

Rolling Stones. Black Sabbath. Guns N Roses. Aerosmith. Motorhead. Anthrax. Slayer. Metallica.
We music writers tend to throw around the term “rock gods” a lot. It has a way of conveying the larger-than-life, stranger-than-fiction personas of these modern legends. Their exploits approach myth, creating a new set of Western fables set against a back drop of a world at once our own and yet completely alien. A world of decadent excess populated by a cavalcade of parties, drugs, sold out stadiums, screaming or swooning fans, and above all…consummate, world-changing music.
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The Palms @ The Troubadour

Local LA-acts take over the legendary Troubadour

Lex Voight
Category: Uncategorized

I was lucky enough to be invited to The Palms’ show this week at the Troubadour. Blending pop rock with some hip hop delivery, The Palms played a set worth remembering. The Years, the primary opener, however, clearly stole the show with their Portugal the Man-esque brand of dancey alt-rock. Their set was short and sweet, but left people not only dancing but actually begging for more when their succinct setlist concluded. Alt-rockers Psychic Love opened.
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Haim Releases New Single, “Want You Back”

A catchy pop tune from the band’s upcoming album!

Zein Khleif
Category: News

Last week, Haim released a live video of their new turmoiled-love song, “Right Now,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. As fans were rejoicing (it’s been more than a year without new music from the sisterly trio) Haim had another surprise up their sleeves: On Wednesday, May 3rd, the band debuted their first official single, “Want You Back,” from their upcoming second album, Something to Tell You.

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Show Review: Future Islands @ Apogee Studio

Samuel T. Herring is my spirit animal

Kyle B. Smith
Category: Lead Story, Review

Coinciding with this year’s edition of Coachella, there was a damn near month of top-notch shows from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and beyond.

On a recent Tuesday night in Santa Monica, Future Islands usurped the stage to record a robust 16-song live performance and interview with Jason Bentley for an upcoming broadcast on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic. Sandwiched between their Sunday sets at Coachella, Baltimore’s best is on tour to support new LP, The Far Field.

In many ways, the album is a continuation of the emotional magic on Future Islands’ 2014 breakout effort, Singles. The band’s performance, too, was in step with live appearances that made them famous.

You have William Cashion’s liquidy bass grooves, Gerrit Welmers’ masterful keys and buttons work hidden under a stoic presence, and then of course, the wild card of Samuel Herring as otherworldly front man with a Victor Price growl, and a cache of moves that will make your head spin. Altogether, it’s a emotionally dizzying experience, and a sort of wistful disco for hopeless romantics.

Future Islands preceded their set (and new album) opener “Aladdin,” as they do all shows – with a team huddle and handshake. Before you knew it, Herring was snatching imaginary stars from the sky, reeling them in, and then singing to them as they sparkled in his grasp. Cashion wasted no time in bringing the room up and down staircases with a trademark circular bass line.

During “Beauty of the Road,” Herring somehow melded cutting a rug with a mimed version of a hanging himself with a noose. But he let himself off the hook, resolving to lose himself with another hybrid concoction; a joker’s-grin-turned thousand-yard-stare of longing during the desperate refrain of “Time on Her Side.”

By the fourth song, “Walking Through That Door,” Mr. Herring had self-flagellated his own skull until a bright red mark appeared as backdrop to cascading beads of sweat. Ever loathe to rest, he turned outward and worked the front row like a politician, singing eye-to-eye with audience members, then lunging side to side like a skulking speed skater.

The set included all but one song off of The Far Field. Touring drummer Mike Lowry laid down excellent work on new one, “Day Glow Fire,” which segued in to “Through the Roses.” The latter contains an affirmation that could aptly sum up the resolve in Future Islands’ ethos: we can pull through, together.

Perhaps the high point of the LP, “North Star” kicked off with a Talking Heads head-bobbing groove, and then saw Herring battling the elements for his dear against a howling synth wind.

The latter part of the set reached farther back in to the catalogue for “Seasons,” the song which buttered the band’s bread, and a few particularly emotional cuts in the encore (“Black Rose,” “Tin Man,” and the wrenchingly beautiful, “Little Dreamer”).

The evening began with a discussion between Future Islands (Herring, Cashion, and Welmers) and KCRW Music Director Jason Bentley. Details are to be saved for the broadcast, but the conversation touched on Herring’s mom’s observation on the band, their unique relationship with fellow Baltimore artist Dan Deacon (and his Daffy Duck t-shirt), and Future Islands’ beginnings “in the neon days of the early 00’s,” as “wild feral children with crazy ideas.”

For a relatively brief exchange, the interview sheds much light on the history and inner workings of the group, and how the “succinctness of form” in The Far Field is a logical output at this point in their evolution. Listen in, and find out which new song contains a discrete shout out to James Taylor.

KCRW will broadcast portions of Future Islands’ set and interview on Morning Becomes Eclectic on Tuesday, May 9.

Future Islands is back in LA at the Greek Theater on September 19.

All photos by Brian Feinzimer

KCRW’s Apogee Sessions featuring Future Islands Setlist

Aladdin
Beauty of the Road
Time on Her Side
Walking Through That Door
Ran
Cave
Candles
Day Glow Fire
Through the Roses
Ancient Water
North Star
Seasons
Balance
______________

Black Rose
Tin Man
Little Dreamer

For more information:

Future Islands
KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic

Show Review: The 1975 @ The Greek

UK indie pop band brings 80s synth, screaming fans

May 1st, 2017
Mary Bonney
Category: Review

Los Angeles has become a second home to the UK act The 1975 since their debut with the perfectly packaged single “Chocolate.” The group previewed their highly-anticipated sophomore album I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It in LA before its release, performed to a packed Forum during the album’s promotional tour and even hosted a pop up shop last holiday season. Last week, the indie pop rock group played two evenings at The Greek Theater to accommodate Los Angeles fans that can’t get enough of these musicians from across the pond.

All photos by Stephen J. Branagan

Powerful winds whipped through The Greek Theater as instrumental music warbled to a crescendo to open then show. Screams erupted as frontman and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Healy took the stage with his signature swagger wrapped in a snug white hoodie for the funky “Love Me” followed by the debut single from their recent release “UGH!”

The set split their songs between their two LPs, balancing the “Change of Heart” followed by “The City” and the desperate “Lostmyhead” with 80s synth-pop ballad “Somebody Else”. Upbeat songs like “She’s American” were balanced by the slow burning “Robbers”.

John Waugh’s saxophone solos were woven through the set, reminding fans of the indie pop rockers R&B influences. Three synth keyboards were lined up downstage, perfect for songs like “Menswear” and instrumentals where Matty took to the keys to create hypnotic soundscapes during extended instrumental interludes.

Stage lights cycled through neon pinks, blues, greens and purples throughout the night, complementing the 80s vibes of their latest album. Their signature rectangles were suspended above the stage as screens displayed complementary images like black and white static, crashing waves and cityscapes through the evening.

A rainbow lit up the stage for “Loving Someone,” which was dedicated to the LGBTQ community. The 1975 has always been an inclusive group (denouncing Trump during our election season at their last LA performance) and Healy explained proceeds of a merchandise option would benefit charities in those communities.

Healy continued his tradition of asking fans to put away cell phones for the burning “Me”. I watched a sea of fans who had been Snapchatting and FaceTiming the show (Healy called out someone who was video chatting from the pit) respect his request and give their full attention to Waugh’s dramatic saxophone solo.

The one two punch of infectious tunes “Girls” and “Sex” ended their first set in a dance party, complete with sing a longs with thousands of screaming girls.

Encore began with “Medicine” as hundreds of cells phones returned, flashlights lighting up the arena. Healy brought the house down by conducting the crowd-turned-gospel-choir in the the soulful “If I Believe You.”

Their biggest singles “Chocolate” and recent earworm “The Sound” ended the evening, a night that was packed with over twenty songs. There was little downtime in between songs, but after the success of this group and their growing discography, fans got exactly what they wanted; to soak in dreamy instrumental interludes and the chance to dance and singalong to perfect indie dance pop on a summer night in Los Angeles.

For more information:

The 1975 official website

Beyonce Announces Formation Scholarship Program

The icon pays it forward through education

April 27th, 2017
Zein Khleif
Category: News

Beyoncè announced on Tuesday she is launching Formation Scholars, a program for women in college or graduate school.
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Odesza Releases Two New Songs

Back with “Line of Sight” and “Late Night”

April 26th, 2017
Mary Bonney
Category: News

It’s been over a year since the critically-acclaimed and much-beloved electronica pair Odesza has released new music and two and half years since their album In Return brought them to national attention. Now the duo of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight have released not one but two new songs for fans to put on repeat: “Line of Sight” featuring WYNNE and Mansionair and the instrumental “Late Night.”

“Line of Sight” seems to line up with the infectious EDM pop that The Chainsmokers are using to dominate top 40 radio while “Late Night” is a hypnotic instrumental track reminiscent of their 2012 release Summer’s Gone. I spoke with Mills in 2014 before the DJ’s meteoric rise and he told me, “We work really hard to make our live shows as engaging as possible… it’s going to keep growing.”

And grow they did. Odesza went from playing in the corner of Amoeba records to selling out every Los Angeles show they’ve played since, culminating in a performance at Coachella in 2015. I’ve heard their music playing in countless retail stores and restaurants and they even earned a Grammy nomination in 2015 for Best Remixed Recording.

No word yet on a new album, or any LA shows in the foreseeable future, but fans will be happy to have new music to tide them over in the meantime.

For more information on Odesza:
Official website

Show Review: John Mayer @ The Forum

The humbled icon returns to the spotlight!

Zein Khleif
Category: Lead Story, Review

It’s by the grace of the Gods that I was able to attend John Mayer’s The Search for Everything Tour twice in the last three weeks. The first time, in Washington D.C., I spent the entire two hours with my mouth agape at the pure, unadulterated talent in front of me. The second time, at Inglewood’s The Forum on April 21st, my mouth definitely did not close, but it is with triumphant pride I announce I was able to keep it together just enough to take some photos and notes for this review!

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Show Preview: Molly House Records @ AKBAR

The queer dance party hits LA

April 24th, 2017
Lex Voight
Category: Review

Looking for great DJ’s, a community, or a kickass dance party? Molly House Records is having an Album Release party on 4/29.

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